Friday, 31 December 2010

Thicker Than Water?

Life on Goats Pride Dairy in British Columbia, my current location, hasn't just been all work work work. My top priority when looking for a farm to volunteer on was to make sure I was around a lot of people. I couldn't think of anything worse than being the only volunteer on a farm with no other travellers about and only one or two other people to talk to. That would certainly be a learning curve, but it was not something I was wanting to do this time around. Well, it is safe to say that with this farm, my hopes were exceeded by far.

I knew the Dykstra family (the Goats Pride inhabitants) had children, as it explained in their profile on WWOOF Canada, the organisation I have been using. But I did not quite expect nine children! They range from the age of thirty-two, all the way down to a full-of-life six year old. When they allow up to seven WWOOF'ers at any one time, you can imagine that Christmas this year was quite the big one, with a completely full house!

Five of the kids are still living at home, and three of these are home-schooled. The concept of teaching your children yourself for longer that the first five or so years of their life is pretty alien to me, as it is an irregular occurance in England. However, the Dykstra kids are not penned in forever; they have the option to go to school whenever they feel like it.

I always thought home-schooling would be a serious hindrance on a child's social capabilities, but these guys don't seem to have turned out too bad! They're so involved with extra-curricular activities that I don't think it would be possibly to keep themselves to themselves. Additionally, with the regular occurance of travellers passing through the house, they have plenty of access to the social world, and from all over the social world no less.

I think there was only one day during this holiday season that was just for family, no volunteers allowed. Which, considering how many little events and evenings there have been, is pretty darn generous if you ask me. Truth be told, going from all these big cities and then onto a farm with not a huge amount of access to town, it can get a little monotonous. My heart aches for the big bad world I love so much with touring cities; not knowing where I am half the time means I'm in my element.

So, everytime Jo-Ann mentions that a few of them are heading out for the evening, I always ask her if it would be possible that I could come along. Being part of a family's everyday life was something I wanted to achieve from my visit to a farm; to see how they live from day-to-day.

I've been to Johann's Christmas music recital, with some amazing middle-schoolers in an orchestra sounding a little something like this...but Johann's particular performance was thoroughly enjoyable.

Charity had an evening recital with her violin tutor and fellow students at an old people's home. Highlights include a little seven year-old girl playing the violin, far too adorable, and an old lady pulling some of the most amazing shapes in her wheelchair. Whatever medication she was on, when I'm old, I want them.

My favourite night of them all would be an evening of some spine-tingling Christmas tunes sung by the Abbotsford Men's Choir. Jo-Ann's father was part of said chorus, and being a complete and utter hero, had a bag of chemotherapy on the go at the same time.He literally refused to miss out on an evening he had been looking forward to so much.

As for Christmas Day itself, there was twenty of us. After feeding the goats at 6am, I come back into the house to find the wee boys jumping about and rampantly ripping open their stockings. To my utter delight as well, I find there is a stocking for everyone. And in mine, along with chocolate, slippers and other treats, the greatest gift of all; a jar of Marmite. Santa Claus knows me by heart.

It is ths kinds of moments that made me feel so accepted into such an already huge family, and made me realise how lucky it was that out of the hundreds of farms I could have chosen, Goats Pride was a pretty good deal. Baby Jennica, a recent addition to the family as Jo-Ann and Peter's granddaughter, had her first Christmas this year. And I was there. How flippin' cool is that?!

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